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Foods to Improve Sleep

Do you struggle to get a good nights sleep?

Insomnia affects about 1/3 of the UKs population and can leave you feeling drained and unable to manage your day to day life, but did you know that what you eat can improve your sleep….?

Foods high in tryptophan will help aid sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of protein, and is an essential amino acid that the body cannot produce itself. Tryptophan also helps create serotonin and melatonin. This amino acid can be found in most protein based foods and dietary supplements.

Below are some examples of foods that can help with sleep and how you can incorporate them into your diet.

Walnuts & Almonds

Walnuts contain ‘Tryptophan’ which is a serotonin and melatonin making amino acid. You need both of these chemicals to regulate your sleep/wake patterns. Walnuts also contain their own melatonin which will help you fall asleep quicker.

Low magnesium levels make it harder for you to stay asleep. Almonds contain good levels of magnesium.


Turkey contains large amounts of Tryptophan, which has a role in turning serotonin into melatonin to help you sleep.


You have probably heard the old wives tale that cheese gives you nightmares? Well this isn’t entirely true. Actually, cheese is a great source of calcium which uses tryptophan to produce melatonin and promote sleep. Other good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, green leafy vegetables e.g. kale.


If you have a salad for dinner make sure it involves lettuce leaves, as these contain lactucarium

which affects the brain a bit like a sedative, helping you relax and get a restful night.

Tuna & Salmon

Foods high in vitamin B6 help make serotonin which is the ‘feel good’ hormone, great for relaxing your body and mind. These include tuna, salmon, pistachios, garlic, chickpeas.


Along with all the other health benefits we recently mentioned in our ‘Oats’ article, oats are also high in melatonin so perhaps we should end the day how we start it??

White rice & potatoes

Foods with a high glycaemic index cause your blood sugar to spike because the glucose is quickly released into your bloodstream. This isn’t great during the day because it gives you energy slumps and leads to food cravings to boost your energy again, however, at night time this can help you to dose off!

Complex carbohydrates help make the tryptophan available to the brain. An ideal evening meal would include a good source of protein containing tryptophan, some dairy from green leafy veg and a serving of rice or potatoes etc to get the benefits from the tryptophan being created and transported where it is needed.


Dehydration is a huge factor affecting our ability to fall and stay asleep, it is important you make sure you are drinking the recommended 1.5-2 litres a day for a great number of health benefits. High water fruits such as melon, pineapple, raspberries also contribute.

And finally, my favourite, and following on from another previous article on the benefits of ‘chocolate’

Dark Chocolate

The serotonin in dark chocolate helps to relax your body and mind.

Example meals include: Turkey or chicken salad with lettuce, walnuts

Chicken pesto pasta

Turkey wrap with lettuce and cheese

Roast salmon, boiled potatoes and green leafy vegetables

Turkey burgers and sweet potatoes

Stir fry with tuna steaks

Example snacks include: Handful of walnuts or almonds.

Hummus on crackers or wholegrain toast/ oatcake.

Rice cakes



Peanut butter on wholemeal toast

Couple of slabs of dark chocolate

Cheese and ham on crackers

It is important to remember that there are other factors that can reduce your sleep such as stimulants like caffeine, TV, stress levels and working late to name a few. So whilst its important to improve the food you eat, it is also important to remember to eliminate or reduce other stresses that could be hindering your sleep. For more advice of improving your sleep quality or incorporating a exercise routine into your schedule to help improve sleep and increase metabolism please contact us

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